When we come across or talk about uncomfortable passages like this in Scripture, how quickly do we disavow God for what he has done? We know God is love, but when we read about him driving away people and animals with a whip, overturning tables, and scattering money to the ground, do we still trust that he is love? Or do we reproach him and think, There is no place in the heart of God for such behavior. I wouldn’t worship a God like that.
Perhaps we join with Christ’s disciples when we think this way. I would imagine that as Jesus was “cleansing” the temple, his disciples were likely not all that eager to say, “Oh yes, I’m with him, and (by the way) he does love the whole world! Here, take a pamphlet on your way out.” Thankfully, however they reacted, we do know that in this moment they were enlightened by Psalm 69:
“Zeal for your house will consume me.”
And further the Psalm continues with,
“and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”
Thanks be to God that the disciples (and we along with them) were not left in the dark. We look to the to the Psalms to reveal the heart of God, and the hearts of men. In the context of John 2, the Psalmist pulls back the curtain to expose the heart of God and the hearts of men and the great eternal divide between them. Zeal for his Father’s house has consumed the Son, and for this reason we reproach the Son, just as we have reproached the Father.
During Lent, let us examine ourselves. How do I reproach God? Why? What attributes or stories of God have caused me to disapprove of Him? What outside ideas of love or justice have infected me and caused this divide between his heart and mine? With our hearts exposed to the unsearchable depths of God’s character and all He has done (including this cleansing of the temple), we may find many weeds and roots in our hearts that must be plucked out to wither to be replaced by new seeds of faith and love of God.
Today, let a new seed of faith be this: Christ bridged the eternal divide between his own zeal and our reproach of him. He said,
“Destroy this temple. And in three days I will raise it up.”
Destroy this temple. Even this holy place that I have been so zealous for (my Father’s house!) has been overrun by sin. There is still division here between God and man. Even this place of sacrifices needs an atoning sacrifice. A new way must be shown.
And in three days I will raise it up. I will become the Way. I will not leave my people in their sin, divided from me. I will take on all that needs cleansing, and I will bear all reproach. I will become their pure sacrifice.
In anticipation of Holy Week, let’s join with Christ in zeal for his new temple and new sacrifice. His body and blood. Let’s join in zeal for his body, the Church, confessing our reproach, receiving his sacrifice, and sharing this new Way with others, again and again in rehearsal for the day we are finally fully united with him!
Andrew Schools lives in Brookland with his wife Annie and their two cats. Andrew is passionate about the mission of Advent in DC and currently serves as Treasurer on the Parish Council. In his spare time, Andrew sits in traffic to and from client sites all around the DMV area.